Uses Interact Mobile Communications For Pilot Scheduling
By Shane Nolan
October 3, 2011 - Varolii Corporation, the independent
market and technology leader in interactive,
personalized business-to-consumer text, voice and email
communications, today announced that it has partnered
with Southwest Airlines to streamline its process for
matching pilot availability with flight needs.
Using the Varolii Interact platform, Southwest Airlines
uses SMS text messages to more efficiently and
effectively alert pilots of flight scheduling
opportunities. Based on Varolii's Software-as-a-Service
(SaaS) solution, Southwest Airlines' Open Time Alerts
(OTA) helps the airline quickly staff unassigned
flights, ensure on-time flight operations and reduce
costs from a less efficient, manual process.
In cases of illness or other circumstances that prevent a pilot from attending their scheduled flights, airlines are left with "open time," or an uncovered shift, that must quickly be reassigned. Prior to implementing the OTA solution, Southwest's crew scheduling departments had to make hundreds of manual phone calls each day to pilots to fill open shifts.
Schedulers were also required to follow a specific call sequence, starting with the most senior pilots, which created lag times from waiting for responses before moving on to the next pilot on the list. This not only wasted resources, but made it difficult to efficiently schedule pilots for unfilled flight times.
Varolii Interact platform, Southwest's OTA solution provides
pilots with an opt-in program that delivers SMS text messages
directly to their mobile devices to alert them of open flights
and give them the real-time opportunity to opt-in to staff
message includes detailed flight information, including the
length of the assignment, overnight accommodations, if
necessary, flight time and more. Pilots receive the information
in a pre-determined cascade of priority, based on seniority and
other factors, and can respond instantly on their phone using
Varolii Interact's two-way text messaging capability to notify
Southwest's crew scheduling department if they are interested in
the assignment. As a result, Southwest has been able to
streamline its scheduling processes and improve the flow of
information to their pilot group.
"With the pervasiveness of today's mobile devices, we knew we needed to adapt our communications strategy to meet the changing needs of our pilots," said Russell McCrady, senior director of crew operations and employee resources at Southwest Airlines.
enables us to tap into this real-time response channel and reap the
benefits of mobile capabilities. This has not only helped us to assign
flights faster and easier as pilots are more apt to respond; but, the
solution has nearly eliminated the need for repetitive, laborious calls
to pilots. This has freed up the scheduling staff to focus on the
operation and improve our overall productivity."
uses Varolii to exchange more than 100,000 OTA text messages to pilots
each month. Out of the airline's 6,067 active pilots in the company,
more than two-thirds have signed up for the opt-in OTA program since the
solution was first implemented in December 2010.
goal with Southwest Airlines continues to be not only to improve
business efficiencies, but ultimately deliver the best experience to the
targeted customer," said Andrea Austin, vice president at Varolii. "At
the heart of the OTA solution is the ability to ensure that flights will
run as scheduled.
?By easily assigning the right pilots to open shifts, Southwest Airlines has been able to draw upon Varolii technology to significantly limit unnecessary flight delays, improving customer satisfaction and overall business performance. These kind of business-results outcomes are at the heart of our partnership with Southwest where we are both focused on delivering superior results for their business, employees and passengers alike."
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